Charlotte Spencer

I do geeky events. Writer & Zombie Enthusiast.

Command Line: Learn Code the Hard Way

A quick free book on learning to use the Command Line. Can come in useful if you’re just starting to learn to program. Doesn’t take long to go through and the author is very fun to follow. Lots of other “learn code the hard way” books, I’m waiting on the JavaScript one. 

1 year ago

Front End London: February 2013

I just got back from Front End London; the second installment of a new monthly meetup dedicated to front-end design from the crew at Made by Many. Tonights talks were from Alasdair MonkMairead Buchan & Jack Franklin.

Alasdair talked about designing for HD screens. He has strong opinions about Photoshop: “Photoshop Sucks!”, preferring tools like Sketch and Paintcode which are vector drawing apps that provide you with the code behind what you’ve designed. This allows you to quickly implement your designs to web. He also talked about image compression. I’m not a designer so I don’t think I can summarise this aspect of his talk well, but my notes say: “Large image, lower quality”, meaning that when dealing with images, save them as a larger size than usual with a lower image quality. This allows you to decrease the images’ file size and you can scale it with code depending on your needs without it looking like crap. You can take a look at his notes here: www.alasdairmonk.com/fel

Mairead talked about 3D Motion technology, controlling devices with nothing but your body. She talked about the practical applications of gesture technology in clinical psychology, specifically outlining work with stroke patients left paralysed on one half of their body. Giving us a run through of the various gesture technology products (Leap Motion, Gyro, Kinect for Windows) and JavaScript tools (depth.js from MIT, kinesis.io, Zigfu) it was a real pleasure to learn about it’s applications in accessibility (something that greatly interests me). 

Lastly; Jack Franklin discussed modular JavaScript. JavaScript is nowhere near my forte but I can tell you that he ran through all the the things that you could consider using if you wanted to learn how to write modular code. He looked at Require.js, common.js, backbone.js and grunt.js; all of which you can find in his resource bundle here: javascriptplayground.com/fel. At the end of his talk he gave away two copies of his book, “Beginning jQuery" to two people who could tell the cringiest joke using the #feljoke hashtag. I was lucky to win one with “What do you call a startup that only eats salad? Lean” which I nicked off of @brackin. I read some on the train home and it is amazing so far, he explains things simply and well and I feel I am going to learn a lot from him as I progress through it. 

I really hope I can grab a ticket for the next #fel as it was a fantastic evening. I’d suggest following Alasdair, Mairead and Jack as they are up to some awesome-sauce stuff. 

Code Club Pi Hack [Part One]

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Above: Rob Bishop, Raspberry Pi Evangelist and Engineer

Today [8/12/2012], Code Club is doing its first ever 24hr hack day. They’ve teamed up with Raspberry Pi to equip 100 developers with a Pi and a brief to make something cool that the kids at Code Club can replicate and use at school. 

Code Club is a nationwide initiative aimed at teaching 9-11 year olds how to code. At the time of writing, there are 393 code clubs being run across the UK and a further 325 looking for volunteers to start a club. Code Club started 9 months ago, when Linda Sandvik and Claire Sutcliffe got together, decided that the IT curriculum in schools at present was not good enough, and sought to remedy this. The response was (and is) immense; Code Club has been featured in multiple newspapers and has the backing of people such as Prince Andrew and Tim Berners Lee. 

The hack is sponsored by Nesta & Raspberry Pi and supported by the likes of Sugru, O’Reilly, Bare Conductive and more. We started hacking at 11am and have all been encouraged to get into a more childlike mindset; provided with Slush Puppies, Pick ‘n’ Mix, Giant Jenga, Play-dough and LEGO. There are many ways the hacks can win prizes but my favourite award will be the one for “best misuse of school property”. 

I’ve been going around finding out what everyone is working on and my two favourites are:

Raspberry Pi Kinex Robot

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The 3D Printer Raspberry Pi project

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Tomorrow I’ll hopefully have some photos of the presentation ceremony and a run down of all of the projects that have been made!